The Gates Foundation has a formal internal process for evaluating grant initiatives. It requires grantees to report on their work and the strategic team to evaluate the overall progress toward outcome goals. As part of this process, the strategic planning team conducts a periodic refresh to evaluate milestones achieved and redefine priorities for the program Refreshes occur every six months to three years, depending on the initiative.
An external advisory committee oversees each main program areaglobal health, global development, and U.S. domestic programs. These advisors review the Foundations strategies and efforts to implement them. Advisory committees are intended to ensure that Foundation efforts are examined from a holistic perspective and to help make midcourse corrections.
In addition to internal evaluation, the Foundation relies on formal research to identify needs and impacts. A recent grant to the University of Washington for more than $100 million helped create the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) to obtain more consistent and accurate data, improve data analysis, and identify needs for specific interventions. Evaluations conducted by IHME also document the effectiveness of targeted health interventions and disseminate evaluation findings to inform policymakers.
The Gates Foundation reports that over the past five years its malaria initiative has had a significant effect on efforts to address the disease, by raising awareness and recruiting resources and global commitment to the initiative. According to the president of policy and advocacy at the Gates Foundation, the malaria advocacy community has expanded from a few members to an active, worldwide community, largely in response to the Foundations leadership and funding. An editorial in the New York Times (December 14, 2008) gave the Foundation credit for a long-awaited breakthrough in developing a malaria vaccine.